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tv   Nightline  ABC  May 8, 2012 11:35pm-12:00am PDT

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. tonight on "nightline," mega church, mega scam? authorities say a future son, claiming to be an investor, hit congregations across the country, leafing hundreds of bankrupt believers in his wake. they call it a giant ponzi scheme, and "nightline" is investigating. at home with the sister wives, a rare invitation to spend time at home with america's most famous polygamists, how one man, four wives, 16 kids, plus a new baby, make it work in sin city. and going with the flow. hit it big with the dog days are over, but the lead singer of
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florence and the machine still lives at home with mom. we go on the town with rock's most fashionable new icon. good evening, i'm terry moran. tonight authorities are throwing the book at one son of a preacher man, accusing him of targeting christian church goers with a multimillion-dollar ponzi scheme. alleged victims tell us, he quoted the bible, and gained their trust and then billked them out of their entire life savings. we followed the money for tonight's "nightline" investigation. >> your life is about to change. >> on this morning, the pastor was eddy long, one of the most powerful black preachers in america. >> everything he says is based
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off the word of god. >> reporter: four years ago, he introduced his mega church to this man, and lives did change. put your hands together to receive my friend, my brother, the great efren taylor. >> reporter: he's a self--made millionaire and he spoke the language of the church. to these families, he was a financial wizard. >> we gonna show you how to get wealth and use it for the building of his kingdom. >> reporter: all part of his wealth tour, but by the time he was done in atlanta, many of these families were left broke and broken. securities officials believe they were victims of a ponzi scheme across the country. from eddy long in atlanta to joel osteen in houston. tonight while he's alive and well on the internet. >> building wealth can be a real challenge. >> reporter: security officials say he's hiding out from them, and from angry african american christians in at least 40
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states. >> he sounded like a godly person to you. >> he did. he quoted scripture. >> lilian says she met privately with him after hearing him speak at church that morning in atlanta. she says he sold her on his investment, that she'd be giving back to her commurnt. >> and i was promised to get a 20% return on my money. >> reporter: so she moved $122,000, everything she had, out of her retirement account and into taylor's investments. in return, he gave her these papers, showing how he spent her entire life savings on a real estate venture called city capital when he claimed turned around homes in inner cities. but then he disappeared. >> i couldn't get a hold of anybody. i started calling the 800 numbers. >> reporter: she's now trying to save her home from foreclosure. >> yes. >> reporter: this is your retirement and it's gone.
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>> yes, it's gone. bad, i know. >> reporter: some of her cash may have been going to gary and anita doria in texas. they invested $1.3 million, their live savings and her mother's retirement. they thought they were in investing in an inner city laundromat, a juice bar, and a gas station. >> reporter: were you spending money on things that existed or imaginary? >> some existed, some didn't. >> reporter: we went looking for the head offices of the businesses taylor listed. we found it here in a post office box. their lawyer said hundreds of investors have told her the same story. >> you will hear from investors, i sent $100,000 for a laundry in kansas. there will be ten or 15 other people who also spent $100,000 on a laundry in kansas. at the end of the day, they had
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nothing to show for it. ♪ >> reporter: there is this muse isk video, starring taylor's wife. the government said taylor paid for it with the money that came pouring in. >> he's a thieve. >> lisa worked for taylor in 2010, selling another type of investment, his company of the pitching. >> i would see things that weren't appropriate. >> reporter: like? >> i had caught them trying to manipulate paperwork. >> reporter: it sounds like you don't believe any of this stuff existed? >> because i know so much. we had folks that came -- >> soon she said panicked families were banging down the doors of this office where she and taylor worked. >> after that one, they put locks on the doors. >> reporter: there's got to be fear on his part that this is all coming down. >> yeah, yeah. you could see him sweating. >> reporter: back in texas, the dorias are facing foreclosure, while they hold on to their
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faith, they've left the church where they first met taylor. >> blessed, prosperous. >> reporter: that church is home to famous prosperity preacher joel osteen. he admits they opened their doors to taylor to speak on the subject of biblical financial adviser. but when he began to promote himself, he was stopped from doing so. >> a staff member made the announcement we're not endorsing this person. also too, you would expect anyone that comes to the church, they would have researched them. >> reporter: when they told the church what happened -- >> he of the at first, anita, how could you? >> reporter: like how could you give the money? >> like i should have known better. >> reporter: in atlanta, lilian says she didn't get much further. what did the bishop say to you? >> he came in and said basically church ain't got no money. >> reporter: he claims the church did nothing wrong.
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in this video, pleaded with taylor to return the money. >> please, do what's right. >> reporter: late today, we heard from a lawyer recently hired by taylor, who told us taylor is not in hiding, but has stayed out of the spotlight because of concerns for his safety. and he said taylor unequivocally denies that he looted investor proceeds to fund an extravagant lifestyle. even so, some of suing him and some of suing their pastors. yet surprisingly, many told us they forgive taylor and put it in god's hands. >> it's not the easiest thing to do, but we live by what the word of god says and we have come to a place where we have forg iven him. >> raise your hand if you want to get paid. >> thanks to steve for that strong investigation. up next, inside the new lives of the sister wives in vegas, with the juggling act of managing 16 kids, plus a new baby.
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now, the classic tale of man and wife, and wife, and wife. they're america's most popular polygamists, stars of "sister wives" and this year, they're making a fresh start in vegas, with one husband, four wives, and 17 kids. domestic life gets complicated as abc's david wright got a rare invitation to go see for himself. >> love should be multiplied, not divided. >> reporter: for two seasons on tlc, we've come to know them as the polygamists next door. >> hi. >> reporter: the surprisingly
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down to earth family given the juggling act their daily lives involve. >> can you rattle them off? >> i can name them. i have to take a moment. madison, mckeltie, hunter -- >> reporter: in a pop quiz, he can name all of his kids. >> truly, gabriel. did i get them all? >> solomon. >> reporter: four wives and 17 kids. no wonder he has trouble keeping track. as season three begins, the browns are still adjusting to sin city having thread utah because of the threat of prosecution. >> how have people reacted in nevada? >> i had a friend who was a very conservative person, and he said to me, you have a stripper living next to you, i don't care if a guy has four wives. >> i don't think he should say absolutely no, because when you say absolutely no, you're going to get it. >> you say no? >> no way. what we have is so perfect and
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so new. >> talk to us in ten years. >> nobody wants to be there. >> reporter: at the same time, the most mundane things can become fraught in this family because of the sheer numbers involved. plural wives inefitably multiply for the opportunity for hurt feelings. >> this year, i spent new year's eve alone. and that was so sad. >> i invited you over. >> i know, i know. >> where were you? >> i was home. >> no, no, i'm sorry. >> reporter: somehow, they seem to sort through it. that's partly what makes "sister wives" riveting to watch. >> i don't know what i expected, maybe like rural housewives of utah. something really crazy over the top. >> we wanted to show people a real family that lives plurl marriage. >> we had no idea how real it would get. >> reporter: there are issues the show refuses to address. >> there are two things that i'm
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surprised to never see. one is worship because it's a religious motivation for this. and two it viagra because -- i can only imagine. >> don't need it. and the religious part of it, we never wanted to expose our religious base, our church. we're willing to be public, but we don't want to make anybody else public. >> reporter: no longer do they all live together under one roof. since they've moved to nevada, they've had a real estate juggling act too. >> robin's house and christine's house is here. >> reporter: each mother has their own house. and the plan is what, that you'll eventually have homes next door to each other? >> yes. >> reporter: cody spends his time commuting. >> i love my sister wives
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dearly, but i don't want to share a kitchen with another woman at all. >> reporter: the family has now authored a book just published and they're in the midst of a court case challenging utah's ban on polygamy. would it be good or not for mitt romney to become president? >> i have to say, i like his sense of business. >> mitt's a very good candidate. then again, i've got friends who are nervous about the idea of him being in the white house. >> reporter: because he's mormon? and he would oppose plural marriage. >> yeah, and i don't need that in my life. >> who likes being a family? >> reporter: they insist they're not trying to promote plural marriage or legalize it, but they want the state to leave them alone. >> reporter: does that level of tolerance extend to gay marriage? >> yes. >> reporter: you wouldn't judge? >> i wouldn't judge.
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>> reporter: as they see it, they've just come out of the closet themselves. >> their book is in stores now and the new season starts this sunday on tlc. just ahead, we got florence and the machine and she takes us out on the town. ♪ ♪
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she catapulted to indy rock fame just a short time ago, nominated for best new artist only last year. but florence welsh has already learned to party like a rock star. in january she chipped her tooth and lit her hotel room on fire with kanye west. since then, she said she's stopped drinking on tour, showing a different side when they went on the town.
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♪ >> reporter: she performs with an intensity that leaves crowds breathless. here, the dog days are over, the song that rocketed to the top of the u.s. charts last year. ♪ the dog days are over >> reporter: do you ever get used to this? >> it's not usually like this. >> reporter: she's 25 years old and while you may not recognize her name, you will recognize her song, from "grey's anatomy" and gossip girl, and "glee." ♪ >> reporter: she commands the stage, even when it's just a
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rehearsal like tonight at radio city music hall, singing no light, no life from her new cd. ♪ >> reporter: what is surprising is that she's rather shy in person. >> instead of stage fright, i guess i have more like life fright. but it's funny because the more your life becomes about singing, it makes the rest of your life more frightening because it changes. the singing stays the same, and the rest of your life becomes something that you have to navigate every day as a different kind of, okay, i get through this, get through that. >> reporter: her life has become something different very fast. it wasn't too long ago that she was just a little girl playing dress-up. so as a little girl in her bedroom in south london. >> i was blousey brown and bugsy
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malone. ♪ i shouldn't cry ♪ but i do ♪ when an ordinary fool ♪ >> i was always singing melancholy songs. >> reporter: you were an old soul. >> yes, well, trying to be. >> reporter: an old soul, maybe, but on a trip to one of her favorite new york haunts, a vintage store. she tells she she still has some growing up to do. in fact, she still does live with her mother. >> i'm ready to go. i don't think it's going to work. >> all right. whoo! that's what my mum worried about, my money management and my key management skills are not -- >> reporter: i have this funny feeling you may end up staying home for a while longer. her unique style has made her a darling of the fashion world. on this night, she'll be walking the red carpet at the
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star-studded met gala. she took me to her room to show me her potential outfit. >> this was designed by sara burton. it moved in the most amazing way. >> sara burton designed a little wedding dress last year. >> and this is another option for tonight. >> reporter: how will you make a decision? >> i'm going to see how i feel later on this evening. >> reporter: so it's how you're feeling. >> how brave i'm feeling. >> reporter: and to the timid girl from south london, i offered some advice. you just have to walk and be yourself. >> a twirl. >> reporter: a twirl gets you in every magazine in the world. will she feel bold enough to wear that big white dress? indeed she does, glorious on the red carpet, and she even finds the courage to take that twirl. for "nightline," i'm cynthia mc


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